What I love about cookbooks, let me count the ways. I love their glossy pages. I marvel at how each dish has been cooked again and again and again before it’s included. I am particularly proud of myself when I turn out a dish and it looks exactly like the photo. I am awed that cookbooks can so easily convey the personality of their author in a way literature does not readily.
A well-written cookbook will never leave your home and loves company. Every now and again I promise the family I will do a cull. But as soon as I pluck out a likely candidate, I’m transported back to the occasions I served that dish or basked in the compliments for that cake and that cookbook is now safe again.
It also fascinates me how we can chart the changes in our home lives by the cookbooks published across the generations. Mum recently gave me a first edition of Margaret Fulton’s 1977 classic, The Complete Margaret Fulton Cookbook. A lot of tin foil and fruit went into garnishing our dinner parties back then, and where was the garlic?
Blessed with a grandmother who cooked with whatever was left in the fridge, my introduction to recipes wasn’t until age 13 with the Home Economics text The Commonsense Cookery Book.
Can I tell you that following those recipes never translated into gastronomic delights, and those Home Economics classes never inspired me to cook.
Fast forward 12 years, and I discover Jill Dupleix’s New Food as I’m unpacking stock in a Mosman bookshop. What a revelation. Recipes introduced with inspiring back stories, mouth-watering photos, and a call to celebrate delicious food with family and friends.